Internet drugs – mapping effects and risks
The drug market has changed in recent years. In addition to older, well-known drugs like heroin, cocaine and amphetamine, a number of new synthetic drugs are now available. These substances are often sold online, and the target groups are teenagers and young people.
It is estimated that a new drug reaches the market each week; during 2014, 101 new synthetic substances were seen on the European drug market, and in 2015 another 100 new ones arrived. These substances are generally not illegal, but as soon as they are made illegal, a new version comes on the market, which sometimes is more dangerous than the previous one. It is a race against legislation. These new drugs are called NPS (novel psychoactive substances) and are often market as RC (Research Chemicals) or “legal highs”.
Studies of different drug discussion fora
There is a considerable lack of knowledge on the effects and risks of these new substances. Yet a lot of information is available on different discussion fora, including on the effects, availability and use of these drugs. It is impossible to assess the accuracy of such information, but since no clinical studies have been done on these new substances, these discussion fora can give an indication of the effects and risks involved. The information available online is also the information that young people will find on these drugs. 64% of Swedish teenagers indicate that they prefer the Internet as a source of information on drugs, while only 9% prefer formal or institutionalised information. A number of serious accidents and even deaths have resulted from NPS in Sweden, and currently different varieties of “Spice” receive most media attention.
The aim of this project is to review different discussion fora systematically, before compiling, assessing and analysing the results. Some studies have already been done on different drugs, including two articles on Spice:
Another study of drug discussion fora has been published:
Articles in connection with the study include:
Kjellgren, A & Jonsson, K. (2013). Methoxetamine (MXE) - A Phenomenological Study of Experiences induced by a “legal high” available from the Internet. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 3, 276 - 286
Kjellgren, A & Soussan, C. (2011). Heaven and Hell – A phenomenological study of recreational use of 4-HO-MET in Sweden. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 43, 211 - 219
Kjellgren, A., Henningsson, H., & Soussan, C. (2013). Fascination and social togetherness - Discussion about Spice smoking on a Swedish Internet forum. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 7,191 - 198.
Soussan, C & Kjellgren, A. (2014). The flip side of "Spice" - the adverse effects of synthetic cannabinoids as discussed on a Swedish Internet forum. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 31, 207- 219.
Soussan, C & Kjellgren, A. (2014). Harm reduction and knowledge exchange - a qualitative analysis of drug-related Internet discussion forums. Harm Reduction Journal, 11:25
Soussan, C & Kjellgren, A. (2015). "Chasing the high" - Experiences of Ethylphendiate as described on international Internet forums. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 9, 9-16.
Soussan, C., Sundström, K., Andersson, M., & Kjellgren, A. (2015). Poisoning casualties: alcohol, pharmaceuticals or "legal highs"? Cases of poisoning at emergency rooms in the Swedish county Värmland region, 2007 – 2013. Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education, 5:386
Kjellgren, A., Jacobsson, K., & Soussan, C. (2016). The quest for well-being and pleasure: experiences of the novel synthetic opioids AH-7921 and MT-45, as reported by anonymous users online. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 7:4.
Study of teenagers’ reasons for using new drugs
A study has been published on teenagers’ reasons for using these drugs. The results show that different factors play a role in the use of different drugs. The study is based on surveys of anonymous users of international drug fora. We hope that knowledge of these reasons can be used to optimise drug prevention and to minimise damage. A study has also been published on cases of poisoning treated in emergency rooms in Värmland, as well as study on synthetic opioids.
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